Oregon looking for new track and field coach, releases Robert Johnson
Robert Johnson, whose decade-long position as Oregon track and field and cross country coach coincided with 14 national titles for the Ducks, will not have his contract renewed when it expires at the end of the month, the school announced in a brief statement released Thursday night.
Johnson’s contract is set to expire on June 30. Associate head coach Helen Lehman-Winters will serve as interim head coach, the school said, while “a national search for a new leader for the Oregon track and field and cross country programs is underway.”
The school gave no reason for its decision not to retain Johnson and there was no response from Oregon to a request to interview athletic director Rob Mullens. Attempts to reach Johnson were also unsuccessful.
Johnson, after a seven-year career as an Oregon assistant, took over the storied and beloved program when Vin Lananna stepped aside in 2012 and led it to unprecedented success, including a triple crown season for the women in 2016-17 when they won NCAA titles in cross country, indoor track and outdoor track.
Altogether, under Johnson the Ducks won eight indoor national team titles (four by the men and four by the women), four NCAA outdoor titles (two by each team) and two NCAA titles in cross country by the women’s team.
Those 14 national titles rank Johnson fourth all-time among NCAA coaches in cross country and track and field, and ninth overall for Division I coaches in all sports.
The Ducks also have dominated the Pac-12 Conference in track and field, winning 15 straight men’s titles and 10 of the last 13 women’s titles. Fifteen of those titles came with Johnson in charge.
Johnson came under scrutiny last fall when a report by The Oregonian/OregonLive in Portland quoted several former female Oregon track and field athletes who accused the coach of weight shaming and for his use of DEXA scans, a medical imaging device that measures bone density and body fat percentage.
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